CDC’s National Environmental Public Health Tracking Program Celebrates 10 YearsPosted on by
CDC’s Environmental Public Health Tracking Program began with the idea that health and environmental problems are not always separate issues with unrelated solutions. Though the program began in 2002, the actual online Environmental Public Health Tracking Network launched in 2009. For the past 10 years, the Tracking Network has helped paint a clear picture of the intricate relationships between environment and health. Moving forward, the Tracking Network has the potential to empower more organizations to save lives and protect health.
Our Origin Story
In September 2000, the Pew Environmental Health Commission published the report “America’s Environmental Health Gap: Why the Country Needs a Nationwide Health Tracking Network.” The report, which stated that the existing environmental health system is neither adequate nor well organized, recommended the creation of a “Nationwide Health Tracking Network for disease and exposures.” At that time, no systems existed at the state or national level to track many of the exposures and health effects that may be related to environmental hazards. Additionally, existing environmental hazard, exposure, and disease tracking systems were often not linked together. Therefore, it was difficult to study and monitor relationships among hazards, exposures, and health effects. The Tracking Network is CDC’s answer to these issues.
Since 2002, the Tracking Program has funded state and local health departments, creating a nationwide network of tracking programs. Currently, CDC funds 25 states and one city. Recipients launched tracking programs of their own and continually improve their citizens’ health. For example, using CDC Tracking Program funding:
- Maine’s Tracking Program identified specific urban areas responsible for 40% of childhood lead poisoning in the state, allowing the health department to perform strategic testing and prevention activities.
- After tracking PM2.5 in the environment, the New York City Tracking Program provided crucial data for legislation that will prevent about 200 deaths caused by PM2.5 exposure each year.
- Using California Tracking Program’s Water Boundary Tool, local government, engineering firms, and non-governmental organizations improved water system efficiency, quality, and costs.
- The Minnesota Tracking Program evaluated the state’s Freedom to Breathe legislation, finding that adults’ and children’s exposures to secondhand smoke decreased by 25% and 20%, respectively.
In addition to strengthening the health of recipient states, the National Environmental Public Health Tracking Program has made great strides in educating and empowering the nation. Using social media channels, the Program reaches nearly 2,000 individuals each day with health messaging, data visualizations, and news from partners in our Tracking Network. The Data Explorer, an interactive data mapping tool, received a quarter of a million queries from users in 2018. The Program itself has become a leader in data management for the CDC, partnering internally with NCEH programs to serve as a data repository.
Because of the Tracking Program, communities can make informed decisions about allocating resources, planning interventions, and evaluating efforts to improve public health. The Tracking Program is successful because of its experts and partners who are committed to improving health outcomes across the United States. Over the next decade, the Tracking Program will expand its reach throughout the nation with a burgeoning network of state and city health departments, as well as within the CDC itself, as a major data science resource, providing the public with Better information for Better Health.
Keep Track of Us!
Follow us on Twitter (@CDC_EPHTracking) and Facebook (@CDC National Environmental Public Health Tracking Network) to stay up-to-date on Data Explorer features, national health trends, and more.